Artist: The Beets
Title: Let the Poison Out
Record Label: Hardly Art Records
The Beets are from Queens, a fact that most press on the band picks out as important, since it differentiates the three-piece from the great heaving mass of bands out in Williamsburg. A relentless playing schedule takes them outside of their own neighbourhood on a weekly basis, though, and they’re already 3 LP’s and a few singles into their four year garage-rock career.
“Let the Poison Out” is a pleasant listen in many ways, but there’s a lack of bite and distinctness that bogs the whole thing down. Juan Waters’ guitar playing and singing [he’s sometimes joined by the rest of the group in gang vocals that enliven a few of the short songs on the album] have a lazy, inoffensive charm, but neither his efforts or the dragging rhythmic backdrop come across well enough to make this a good record. Bassist Jose Garcia emphasizes the importance of seeing the band live to really “get it,”
and the production by Gary Olsen of Ladybug Transistor points to one of the problems with recording a band in the style that is broadly labeled “lo-fi”—it often doesn’t come within spitting distance of replicating what a band does live. The instrumentation and vocals sound vague and far-away, but not quite far enough for the repetitiveness of their songwriting not to come through crystal clear.
Granted, a band that idolizes the Ramones doesn’t need to go through a half-dozen key changes every two minutes to prove their mettle, but they do need strong, distinct melodies. It’s tough to pick one out from another on this record, despite the often clever lyrics. The sloppy looseness that the band prides themselves in their live sets attracts raves for its spontaneity and rock n’ roll carelessness, but that does not a songwriter make—that’s one thing that sounds clearly through the lo-fi recording of “Let the Poison